Cormani McClain wasn't immediate star many expected with Colorado football

Sep 30, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Tahj Washington (16) runs the ball
Sep 30, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Tahj Washington (16) runs the ball / Chet Strange-USA TODAY Sports

Cormani McClain didn't become the immediate breakout star many assumed he'd be with Deion Sanders' Colorado football program, something 247Sports' Brad Crawford pointed out as he reported on a second Florida visit for the former 5-star Lakeland cornerback coming out of high school.

"A spot starter for the Buffaloes and a former five-star signee, McClain battled through tumultuous first season at Colorado," Crawford prefaced before saying, "He is one of the latest Buffaloes players to enter, which brings the total to double digits. McClain was the No. 14 player overall in 2023, but wasn't the immediate star most assumed he would be at the Power Five level."

But why was that the case?

Cormani McClain and Deion Sanders weren't good fits for each other at Colorado football

What's interesting about McClain and Deion Sanders is that both were very similar coming out of high school. Both had supreme confidence in themselves -- McClain made an entire spectacle about his Miami commitment but didn't even make good on it, while Sanders flashed the same "Prime Time" attitude that was prevalent his entire career -- and had the talent to back it up.

Sanders, though, always had the performances to back it up too. McClain didn't get to see the field much in his freshman year, which was why he didn't meet the lofty expectations many had for him.

McClain didn't see the field because of disciplinary issues; specifically, issues Sanders had with his off-the-field attitude. McClain indulged in the CU Boulder experience, which isn't something Sanders agrees with on a moral level. That drove a wedge between the two that blew up before the USC game. That wedge was something that even a late-season admission from Sanders that he was proud of McClain (after the Arizona game) couldn't be reconciled.

That Sanders still picked on McClain in the offseason sealed the fate for the relationship. McClain didn't make it to the Black and Gold game and now looks like a potential Billy Napier rebuilding project in Gainesville.

Ultimately, McClain didn't meet Sanders' standard from a character perspective, and it was something Coach Prime never got over. Did he see himself in McClain and was disappointed that the same sort of intensity toward getting better wasn't displayed?

Who knows for sure, but it has certainly come off that way.